Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered the following remarks at the National Archives marking the 30th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“Thank you very much, Carl, for your very warm words of introduction and for your invitation to be here this evening. It’s an honor to be here with our Speaker of the House, Mr. Boehner, our colleagues, as he mentioned, David Price and Ed Royce, who will be here along with Senator John McCain and Chairman Menendez. I thank my distinguished friend, Mr. Frost, for his invitation to be here as well. He personally extended it and I’m so proud to have received it from the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Frost. He and Vin Weber – I had the privilege of serving with both of them in Congress. And as Co-Chairs of this evening’s event, I salute you and thank you for what appears to be a very, very successful evening.
“David Ferriero knows that I love to come to the Archives. Where did David go? I love to come to the Archives. And what a perfect place for us to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy – a place where our founding documents are domiciled, our declaration that all men and women are created equal. Our Constitution. We were all together on New Year’s Eve exactly at midnight when the bell rang last year, bringing in not only the New Year, but the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“All of that here for the world to see and what an inspiration it has been to our country and to the world. And the agent to bring it to the world has been the National Endowment for Democracy, in the modern world – 30 years, 30 years of effectively promoting freedom, supporting freedom around the world, promoting democracy, and honoring the dignity and worth of every person. And central to that has been the leadership of Carl. He has been so remarkable, Carl Gershman – 30 years.
“When we talk about some of the leaders that you have honored and I have been present for, I want to say what courage it has taken for Carl to honor some of these people. Because it was not without some, shall we say, question or concern from others. I’m very pleased I was able to give Han Dongfang the award in recognizing the labor movements in China. And I too want to commend President Ball and then our friends here in labor tonight for the work that they do not only supporting NED as an institution, but supporting freedom throughout the world. And workers’ rights are central to that – as you said: ‘free markets, free people, all of that, business labor, Democrats and Republicans working together.’
“But really, the auspices: Wang Dan and the Tiananmen movement, Martin Lee and the Hong Kong democracy movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, in addition to the head of the student movement, Yang Jianli, Wang Tiancheng. You mentioned Han Dongfang, Chen Guangcheng – recently, the blind dissident – Liu Xiaobo. I had the privilege of working with you on Liu Xiaobo, but also of being named by his family to be one of their representatives in Norway when he received the Nobel Prize in absentia, because the Chinese would not allow him to go.
“So today, I think that who you honor says something about you. And who NED has honored says something about NED’s courage, NED’s mission, NED’s values and vision for a world where people are free. And I’ve seen firsthand across the world the effects of NED’s leadership and activism. I saw and spoke at some graduations when I came back a few years ago from a trip to the Middle East, where young people – every place I go, you know, you meet the leadership; but you also want to meet the women, the dissidents, the young people, all aspects and sectors where you can, where it doesn’t endanger them. And these young people across the Middle East, they said: ‘Tell your friends in America that we are tired of leaders who are not preparing for our future. Some of them use war as an excuse not to grow our economy or prepare for a better future. And we are in touch with each other electronically and we are not going to put up with this much longer.’
“Imagine that this was made seven or eight years ago and look what happened after that. These kids told us what they were going to do, inspired by our founding documents, by our country. Instructing and also expanding their horizon was the role that the National Endowment for Democracy has played.
“So, the 30th anniversary is indeed cause for celebration. Now, it sounds like a long time for an institution, but as I was coming in and all of you did see too, the posters of the 30 under 30. It seems very young, but mature for an institution – young for a courageous leader, some of whom have been recognized here this evening.
“So, I want to say we couldn’t be in a more perfect place, the Archives, where our documents, with our vision, and our values of our country are enshrined to salute all of you who have made NED such a tremendous success. And may we all live up to the inspiration and the principles of our founding documents. And may we all honor our responsibility to support freedom around the world.